Louise Armstrong is a Senior Sustainability Advisor at Forum for the Future, a non-profit working globally with business, government and others to solve tricky challenges. She runs innovation projects with leading organisations like eBay, Sky and Sony.
Do you follow a creative process?
I often think creativity is a mindset rather than a set of specific actions.
Do you use any tricks or techniques to come up with ideas?
Not strictly – although day to day at work – Forum for the Future, I use a lot of Futures techniques to get people thinking differently about the world around them and the big trends/unknowns. We use trends and develop future scenarios – basically stories, that are plausible, coherent and challenging descriptions of possible future worlds. We find it really helps to break people out of the constraints of today and helps people to develop new ideas about products, services or ecosystems that need to exist in the future. We use this with businesses and diverse groups of people – and we find it’s really powerful. My favorite project has been our FutureScapes work looking at the role of technology in creating sustainable future.
What was the hardest part of developing your idea?
Having the conviction to just try something – getting over that the fact it may not be the perfect solution right away.
Where / when do you feel most creative?
When I’m relaxed, surrounded by people I trust and feel comfortable with but often also when cycling.
Does technology help or hinder creativity?
Funny you should ask – I’ve been working on a project linked to this – it’s called Look Up. I think technology is a really amazing tool – in some instances, but at the same time we place lot of expectations on it and it doesn’t always give us the answer. Look Up is all about encouraging people to use technology in the right way – to do really awesome things. We want to develop technology solutions that help us be more creative and encourage positive behaviours and really make a difference. It’s early days for Look Up – but we’d love to know what people think and where we might be able to take it next…
Do you use group brainstorms? If so, how do you run them?
Yes, it’s often about posing the right challenge or question – and always best with post-it notes.
What’s the biggest challenge facing creative people?
Feeling that you need to be creative on demand. You can’t always predict when good ideas will emerge, you can create the right conditions, but sometimes that’s all you can do.
Also – embracing failure – there is no such thing as failure, just feedback, after all.
Can creativity be taught?
I think it can be encouraged and nurtured – but not taught.
Who is the most creative person you know?
Oh that’s a hard one….I need a bit more time for that one!